I was heading home from work on Aug. 19 when I saw smoke on a nearby mountain. As there was a fire ban in force, I thought I’d better check it out.
Fortunately I had my camera with me. As a reporter/photographer, you’re always on call.
It was scary to see how quickly the fire spread from near the top of a large hill down towards the houses of Kilpoola Estates next to Spotted Lake. But it was reassuring to see how quickly planes from the Wildfire Management Branch arrived at the scene, as well as ground-based firefighters. Eventually, there were 35 firefighters, two helicopters and five air tankers used in the effort.
While the helicopters scooped up water from small lakes nearby, the tankers or bombers flew in from their bases loaded up with red fire retardant, which they dropped at the edge of the fire in its path to slow its spread. The fire was under control before it could do any serious damage, but hot spots continued burning for days, keeping ground crews busy.
From Hwy. 3 at Spotted Lake I could watch and photograph the action unfolding, and I captured some of the photos shown here. A couple weeks later, I visited the Penticton Air Tanker Base to interview and photograph the crew there that flies the planes and fights the fires from the air. I’ve included some of those photos here too.
You can read my story about the Penticton Air Tanker operation here.